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Posted By jharkin,
Mar 18, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Jeesh, and to think I complain about going to Detroit a lot for my work
Not exactly A more accurate way to put it would be islands of relative modernity in a vast sea of poverty.
Just like all Asian countries you see a mix of modern/wealthy and poor - but there the similarity ends. India is nothing like say, China, and I imagine in turn not like Korea, Thailand, Burma, etc... India and China are the only ones I have personal (and admittedly very limited) experience with so I have some thoughts...
India is VERY different from China. In China when they decide to go modern they go ALL out and develop an entire area. And they pull out the stops. they move very fast. In the special economic zones they can turn the third world into lower Manhattan nearly overnight. That for example is what I see in Shanghai.... The financial area could be any major modern city in the world, with ultra modern buildings finished to impeccable standards with world class roads and infrastructure (see my old Shanghai thread). They pour tons of money into building out the infrastructure to support it. The one party system means they can do whatever they want without regard to regulations and bureaucracy. The poverty and environmental issues are still around - just elsewhere.
India on the other hand is the worlds largest democracy, and with it comes the largest bureaucracy and epidemic corruption. Much of the major infrastructure is aging and ridiculously inadequate, a lot of it little improved since the Raj. They are working on improvements but in this system things take time. Pune itself is a city of 5+ million with no international airport and minimal public transport. There are proposals for a subway and airport but it might take 10-20 years even if it gets approved. China would do it almost overnight. The roads are practically a war zone everywhere with garbage and construction debris. Traffic is mayhem and police enforcement is nonexistent. Traffic cops do stop people, but only to take kickbacks.
Where China develops entire zones at once, and overnight, in India you see modern buildings going up scatter shot all mixed into the poverty. So you might drive up to that fancy western hotel on a dirt road. Also modern is an issue of degree - the office buildings look ultra modern from a far but when you look close, the standard of finish is not quite up to what we would expect, details like the paint etc are sloppy and the bathrooms might look like something from a truck stop. Only in the highest end hotels will you see uniformly excellent materials and build. They also tend to have lots of power issues and brownouts and load shedding are common, thought the issues in the area I travel to seem to have been fixed now. Even so all business hotels, etc have diesel generators.
When you get right down to it, I guess the takeaway is that China is picking and choosing areas to force into the modern age as a way to showoff to the outside world, whereas India makes no attempt to put on a show or hide anything and is gradually but not surprisingly slowly trying to raise up the entire country.
The philippines looks like little india to me. The roads are equally atrocious. A few hundred wealthy families own most of the country and the big business. The main cities are quite modern and are growing fast.There somewhat of a middle class taking root mostly from foreigners retiring there with big pensions and pinoy wives. They all(asia) seem to have one thing in common,they like that huge pool of cheap labor and since most of the politicians are wealthy(like in the US) i dont see any big change in the class system.